After getting older, this, is what, we’d, figured out, about ourselves, translated…
Eileen, French, she was, the classmate from the third university which I’d studied theatres in France. We’d met during our swim class of the sophomore year at the gym. That day, I was, battling hard, with the Olympic-size pools, a beautiful head, floated from my back, she’d greeted me in Chinese. Having learned some Chinese, Eileen had, met me, who’d just, arrived in France, and, we’d communicated using our broken French and broken Chinese, along with charades, to convey our thoughts to one another.
The second-year theatre course load was very heavy, taking that theatre and philosophy course was, more than enough, to slaughter a student from Taiwan, who’s NEVER been in “contact” with philosophy before. Eileen, who was extraordinarily kind gave me her own took-down notes for the course, and asked me on a study date with her, to save me from myself. I’d worried, that she had alternative motives, and I’d told her my sexual orientation right away. She was stunned at first, then, burst out laughing, and her laughter made me feel quite awkward. “I just know how it’d felt, living in a foreign place.”, she’d told me. “But Shang-Der, it’s so easy, for you, to blurt out your secret.”
In the five-year theatre course, Eileen, who’s seven years junior to me took me along, to experience a ton of things which were new to me. Once, she’d invited me to the theatres, the performance was at ten in the night, outside, on the square of the national library, the five stools set up were the audience sections, and, the chairs weren’t filled up at all. At the start of the performances, the five performers who stood 200 meters off from us started speaking, it’d taken them around twenty minutes, to walk in front of us, then, the show was, over. Back then, as I’d, worked so hard, to suppress my shock, Eileen’s eyes were, filled, with that scent of aestheticism. “A pure and simple form of beauty”, she’d, concluded. Later on, she’d managed, to work up my appetite for theatre, and I bore witness to the “birth” of the performances at the abandoned fields, the subway systems, and caves, all experimental performances. I’d even taken a semester of Rumba and Salsa with her too. I am Eileen’s knight with two left feet, never able to, catch up to how graceful she was, but she’d always, consoled with me, “Don’t worry, one day, you will be, just as graceful as I am now.”
“One day”, because our special secret. “One day, I will go to Taiwan to visit you”, “One day, we will, work together on a play.” “One day, we shall, travel together.” “One day, I’ll take my partner, and you take yours, and maybe, those cute little kids too……”, that, was the age of dreams, we’d, projected the most beautiful beliefs about our selves to the futures, and, the words we’d spoken, became like the bubble gum bubbles we’d blown up in our childhood years.
The few years after I’d returned to Taiwan, Eileen actually came to Taiwan to take Chinese courses; then, she’d gone to Beijing for a year to study, to learn about the Chinese opera styles, then, returned back to France, to continue working on her doctorate in Chinese operas.
I’d recalled having discussed the word “affinity” with Eileen before, tried to explain it in simpler terms she can understand: the characters, taken apart, mean ordering two servings to share between the two individuals. And, the characters together meant, a person, sharing a meal, with the portions divided between her/him and another, if you’d paid more, then, you’d gotten, the bigger portion, and the opposite applies too. But, they were those, freeloaders too, the bad affinities. Some of the affinities are quite delicate, others, rough, some were all-you-can-eat, others, finished in one bite. Eileen looked as if she’d understood part of what I was trying to convey to her, onto my fattened belly, spoken in Chinese, “Then, you must’ve have, so many servings of affinity then”.
Two days ago, a friend from Taiwan who’s staying in France sent me a photo, in that picture, he was, standing right next to Eileen. The world is so tiny, two friends I’d known had, become a couple. “Eileen wants to know, do you still remember this?”, my friend was talking about the red electric rice cooker from Tatung that Eileen had, that was, a gift, I’d given to her before I left France, and, it’d been, eleven years. Now, Eileen works as a university lecturer, and I, continued, working hard, in the theatrics in Taiwan because in a blink of an eye, the two of us, are both, living in the visions of our separate futures we foresaw back then. Although, this future may not be so wonderful, but at least, we both have, that scent of comfort, from her face, mine too, along with our figures, it’d shown, just that.
So, there’s, this scent of nostalgia, about recalling what had happened with this other person in one’s life, and, looking back through the years, this man discovered things about himself he’d failed to notice from before, and, in relating to his friend, he’d realized, that they’re both, living out the dreams that they’d had when they were younger.